‘He’s Got Game’: Baffert Impressed By Medina Spirit’s Gutty Victory In Robert B. Lewis

Move over, Authentic.

In a performance even more surreal than Authentic’s Kentucky Derby triumph, Medina Spirit upstaged Bob Baffert’s newly minted Horse of the Year Saturday, staring defeat in the eye down the homestretch and refusing to blink, holding off two pursuers through the last quarter mile to win the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes in a stretch run for the ages.

It wasn’t Jaipur and Bill Shoemaker and Ridan and Manuel Ycaza going neck and neck for a mile and a quarter in the 1962 Travers, Jaipur on the outside eventually winning by a nose, but the three-horse battle down the lane in the Lewis will do until the next thing comes along.

(Aside to readers: It’s worth watching the ’62 Travers and hear announcer Fred Capossela’s distinctive, halting, staccato, call. Comedian Robert Klein does a classic impression of ‘Cappy’ who when asked by his wife what he wants for dinner, responds with, ‘I’ll have Caesar salad first, roast beef second, mashed potatoes third, peas and carrots fourth …).”

Even Baffert thought he wasn’t going to win after Roman Centurian and Hot Rod Charlie hooked pacesetting Medina Spirit at the head of the stretch. As it was, Medina Spirit, who led virtually from the start after breaking from the rail, prevailed by a short neck over Roman Centurian, with Hot Rod Charlie a nose back in third.

“I thought he was beat,” Baffert said after the race.

All was well on Sunday with Baffert’s record 10th Lewis triumph safely in the archives.

“He was gutty as could be, showed some grit, and that’s what you want to see,” Baffert said Sunday morning. “He’s got game. He beat a good field and the California horses (on the Triple Crown trail) are pretty strong.”

Baffert now has the enviable but challenging assignment of deciding on Medina Spirit’s next race, as he must with individual Kentucky Derby Future Wager favorite Life Is Good, among others in his barn of well-stocked sophomore bluebloods.

“We’ll just go week by week,” Baffert said. “I don’t really plan anything out. I’ll wait a couple weeks before I decide. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even going to run in the Lewis until the last minute. I decided I liked the way he (Medina Spirit) worked, put him in there, didn’t want to be sittin’ on him, breezing him. Sometimes they get hurt just working them, so I’d just rather put a race into him.

“We’re learning about the horse. It wasn’t an ideal way for him to run that way yesterday (on the lead from the rail), but his hand was sort of set from the start when he broke a little slow and he (Abel Cedillo) couldn’t really take him back. He never had a chance to really get him out like he did the last time (second to Life Is Good in the Sham).

“There was a lot of speed yesterday, and from a different post he could have relaxed more. But it was good for him, he got something out of it and showed there’s a lot of quality.

“It puts him right up with what’s out there now. We still haven’t seen any American Pharoahs or Justifys yet, but Medina Spirit’s win makes Life Is Good look better, too.

“This next couple months you’ll see a lot of horses change.”

As to Spielberg, who finished a disappointing fourth, beaten just over 11 lengths, Baffert said, “He was never really in it. He didn’t like dirt in his face. He didn’t show up, but they’ll do that.”

The post ‘He’s Got Game’: Baffert Impressed By Medina Spirit’s Gutty Victory In Robert B. Lewis appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.